Five Colombian army soldiers were killed and three were wounded Saturday in an ambush in the southwestern province of Putumayo, the military commander in that region, Col. Juvenal Diaz Mateus, told Efe.
Members of the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group detonated a bomb as some military vehicles were traveling between the hamlets of Puerto Vega and Teteye, the colonel said by phone.
"Five of our men were killed instantly and three more were wounded," Diaz Mateus, commander of the 27th Jungle Brigade, said.
The colonel told Efe the attack occurred in the southern part of Putumayo "in a sector known as Remolinos," near the border with Ecuador.
He attributed the attack to guerrillas with the FARC's 48th Front "under the command of alias 'Robledo.'"
Military operations were continuing in the region to prevent the rebels who carried out the attack from retreating, while the three wounded soldiers were taken to hospitals in the city of Puerto Asis and the provincial capital of Mocoa.
The ambush occurred two days after the Colombian government and the FARC met in Hurdal, Norway to formally inaugurate a peace process aimed at ending nearly five decades of internal strife.
The head of the FARC negotiating team, Ivan Marquez, said Thursday that the guerrilla group was participating "with a collective dream of peace and with an olive branch in our hands."
The FARC's objective is to "seek peace with social justice via dialogue," with the Colombian people in the leading role, Marquez said.
Both parties agreed to hold another preparatory meeting in Cuba on Nov. 5 before initiating the dialogue 10 days later, Abel Garcia said on behalf of the government of Cuba, which - along with Norway - is acting as a facilitator for the process.
The accord establishing a framework for the peace process was signed on Aug. 26 in Havana after six months of secret exploratory discussions under the auspices of the Cuban and Norwegian governments.
The FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments since 1964. The Marxist insurgency swelled to nearly 20,000 fighters in the early 2000s, but now numbers around 8,500 combatants.
Colombia's armed forces, bolstered by billions of dollars of aid from the United States, have scored dramatic successes against the FARC in recent years, but the rebels remain capable of inflicting significant damage on the military and on vulnerable infrastructure.
The FARC had proposed that a cease-fire be observed while the peace talks are being held, but Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos refused that demand and has ordered stepped-up military action against the rebels during the process. EFE